Choose Gratitude Over Fear Then, Give it Away

We have been living in a new normal for nearly three weeks now. What was normal, taken for granted and routine is for the present, absent. COVID-19 has pulled the rug out from us, rendering us homebound, strategizing how to score toilet paper and remain sane. It’s a big job.

Fueled by Fear

Many among us are fearful of what’s to come. The stock market plunges, rises and plunges again. Once bountiful supplies of food and supplies are absent from the stores we shop at. Hoarding abounds. With school and work cancelled (excepting essential workers) students are home and parents are scurrying to both educate their kids and keep up with their own work remotely.

Panic And Hoarding = Fear and Anxiety

Enough of the bad news.

Tensions are running high. The good news is we’re in this together. Ask those not accustomed to being in this quite so together and they may say it’s also the bad news. There are a lot of “what ifs” to think about. And yes, fear abounds. Life is uncertain. Tomorrow is not promised.

ENOUGH WITH THE BAD NEWS

The good news is still good. There is a God in Heaven who loves us and who has not been surprised by the events that have taken our breath away. Seventy-seven years ago, CS Lewis wrote:

Satan: “I will cause anxiety, fear and panic. I will shutdown business, schools, places of worship and sports events. I will cause economic turmoil.”

Jesus: “I will bring together neighbors, restore the family unit, I will bring dinner back to the kitchen table. I will help people slow down their lives and appreciate what really matters. I will teach my children to rely on me and not the world. I will teach my children to trust me and not their money and material resources.”

The husband reading our morning scripture to me- a wonderful new normal!

How is this good news? It’s good because God is at work. He is causing us to re-examine our lives which are often so busy we have little time for self-reflection. For most of us, right now we have an abundance of time. Time for the best things, the most important things. Things like prayer, sharing a family meal around our tables and staying in touch with those we love have too often taken a back seat to the things that matter most- the things that ground us- the foundational things. We’re busy with lots of stuff, much of it ostensibly good, things like book clubs, church activities, exercise classes, sporting events, meals with friends, volunteering, deadlines, celebrations and even work commitments. Then there are those other things- the binge watching, social media scrolling, on-line shopping, excessive work, etc,.

We as a culture have fallen prey to what what Charles E. Hummel so eloquently called “The Tyranny of the Urgent.” If you haven’t read it, google it now. It may well change your life. In the meantime, let’s change the tide, starting today.

What if we decided to cease worry and anxiety? What if we decided to change our focus? Let’s begin to fix our eyes on the One who came to bring hope. Let’s remember how much we have to be thankful for. Let’s be intentional about releasing fear and resting in His peace. Let’s take the challenge and walk forward as light to a world stumbling in darkness. In a word, if you have light, shine it.

Be the light that guides someone home.

Begin today. Here are some ways to start:

If you are a person of faith, share it with someone who isn’t. If ever the world was in need of saving, it’s now. If you know the Savior, share the hope that is within you. Give it away.

Pick up your phone and call someone you’ve neglected to maintain contact with in your normal day to day life. Time is a gift. Give it away.

Write a note or card to someone you love and appreciate. Tell them what they mean to you. Pop a stamp on it and leave it out for your mail carrier to send it on. Everyone thrives when they’re shown appreciation. Give some away.

Open your Bible and begin to read the book of Matthew. You’ll come to know Jesus in a more intimate way and you may be amazed at how relevant his words are in the midst of this chaos. Then encourage someone else to do the same. Give it away.

Love in a Bag

My friend Tracy who has an orange tree, picked a bunch of them, sanitized and bagged them up and then delivered them to doorsteps of others. My friend Cindy left little cans full of flowers in her drive way for her neighbors to claim and enjoy at home. Find something, even something small that you can do and do it. Caring for our neighbors is love. Give some away.

Loving Your Neighbor Isn’t So Hard!

Greet everyone with a smile while practicing 6 foot distancing. You may have someone to go home to but they may not. Be a vessel of joy to everyone you meet. Give it awayway.

Just smile!

Remember physical distancing doesn’t have to be social distancing. Stay in touch with others everyday. Call someone who lives alone, someone who is disabled, isolated or anxious. Be a lifeline, make the call, bring cheer. Give it away.

Practice intentional gratitude. Make it your practice to write down at least three things you’re thankful for today and everyday. If you’re fortunate enough to share a meal with your family, also share among yourselves what each is grateful for today. Gratitude isn’t gratitude until it’s shared. Give it away.

A page from my gratitude journal circa 2005
(I’m now up to 1734!)

Finally, if you haven’t already, consider that there is One who created this world and who has a plan. Ponder the possibility that we may have gotten off track thinking our independence is a good thing, that we have things under control and that God’s ways are outdated and unnecessary. I believe that because He loves his creation so much, He will allow us to come to the end of our own ropes waiting patiently to be acknowledged. Cry out to Him, call to Him for help. He is standing ready, to give it away.

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